Made by the action of sulphuric acid on borax, or by purification of native boric acid, which is a compound of the element boron with oxygen, and is obtained from certain mineral springs in Italy. White, pearly, glistening crystals, soluble in 25 parts of cold and 3 parts of hot water. The saturated solution has a strength of 4 per cent.
It is not irritating externally, but rather the reverse, and when applied to wounds prevents suppuration. Internally, in large doses, it is a gastro-intestinal irritant, and poisoning has been caused by washing out internal cavities with a 5 per cent. solution. The symptoms were: nausea, vomiting, hiccough, disturbed respirations, rapid; feeble pulse; erythema and ecchy-mosis, subnormal temperature, and collapse. As a wash for babies' eyes and mouths, the saturated solution is diluted one half with water.
It is used as the basis of a variety of mouth washes for the sick. It constitutes the largest part of Thiersch powder, used in making an antiseptic solution. (See salicylic acid.) Its use as a preservative for milk is dangerous, the milk so preserved being injurious, especially to infants.
Contains paraffin, white petrolatum, and boric acid.